During the last two minutes of the Denver/San Diego game this past Sunday, Jay Culter fumbled inside the Chargers' 10-yard line... only referee Ed Hochuili had blown his whistle and ruled it a misfired pass.
Replay, of course, showed that the ball simply squirted out of Cutler's hand before he was bringing it forward. But notably, this was the first time that Hochuili saw the play the way all of America saw it, from the side. At his angle, behind Cutler, and full speed, it would have been much tougher to notice.
Hochuili's hands were tied. The rules don't let you overturn that particular play on review. Denver, which was trailing with no timeouts, would have lost with a correct ruling, but they went on to score and win. The NFL announced publicly that they were downgrading Hochuili's status -a surprising rebuke for one of the most respected game officials in sports today.
I bring all of this up only because I happened across Baylor/UConn's football game tonight. With about ten minutes left, Baylor led 28-24, and their quarterback dropped into his own endzone and was dragged down, desperately trying to stretch the ball back across the goal line. The ruling on the field (which stood after review) was that he managed to succeed - no safety. Instead of a 2-point margin and a free kick coming their way, UConn had to defend another play, albeit from the 3-inch line.
The replay seemed to indicate to me that the QB's knee was down with the ball still in the end zone, but alas, not clearly conclusive. And the official in the end zone who made the initial call? Back judge Shawn Hochuili - Ed's son. (You can't make this stuff up.)
Right now there are four minutes left, and the younger Hochuili seems to be off the hook: after forcing the punt, UConn drove to score, aided by two Baylor penalties. The first came on the punt return, for running into the man trying to field the punt before it got there - but it was one of the UConn players who did it. (Yeah, not the best night for the officiating, but the crew is from three different conferences.) Baylor added a third penalty after the touchdown (late hit), and has committed another one on their current drive.
Oh, and the Mets won. They're in first place with a game in hand, nine games to play, and the Brew Crew continued to dissolve like a sandcastle at high tide, so the wild card lead is 2.5 games.
(update - 54 seconds left, Baylor just stalled out at midfield. UConn will win, barring a Pisarcik-sized brain fart. The star was the running back, Donald Brown - 34 carries, 150 yards, two scores (including the winning touchdown). He's from Atlantic Highlands, NJ. Rutgers REALLY misses Ray Rice.)